SAN FRANCISCO — The Joy Formidable returned to the Bay Area following the release of its new album, Aaarth. The Welsh trio played at The Independent to an energetic, joyful and formidable crowd.
The band’s heavy and melodic riffs blended with the angelic voice of frontwoman Ritzy Bryan and the rhythmic backbone of bassist Rhydian Dafydd and drummer Matthew Thomas to create TJF’s signature sound, which has built up an independent worldwide following.
The set of course included the band’s breakthrough hit, “Whirring,” as well as “Cradle” and “A Heavy Abacus,” off 2011 debut LP, The Big Roar.
The Aaarth songs (the album name isa variation on the Welsh word for bear) were highlighted by set opener “Y Bluen Eira,” which was sung at least partly in Welsh, “The Wrong Side,” “Cicada (Land on Your Back)” and “Absence.” Even after a small setback due to a malfunctioning piano, Bryan overcame the obstacle with a stand-up routine.
“Does anybody know how to fix a piano?” she asked. In response, one fan yelled whether the band had attempted to turn it off and then on again.
With the instrument fixed, Bryan offered a “choose your own adventure” to the fans: “Do you want us to play the piano song or the non-piano song?”
“Let’s play the fucked-up song,” she opined as “Absence,” the piano-song, clearly won the vote.
At the concert, Bryan and her bandmates also hinted at a future acoustic tour. The Joy Formidable played a Noise Pop Festival show acoustically in 2017 and the show sold out almost instantly. Originally scheduled for next week, the concert was uncharacteristically pushed forward to Thursday because The Joy Formidable is also opening some shows for the Foo Fighters.